Case Study

How Urbi Uses Optibus to Build Better Timetables and Schedules in Half the Time

Urbi Mobilidade Urbana, a public transportation operator in Brasilia, needed to improve its operational efficiency, reduce kilometers traveled in Brazil’s capital, and optimize the company’s resources in the face of difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic – all while receiving government approval to deploy its new schedule and maintaining the highest level of service possible.

Background

Prior to using Optibus, one of the characteristics of Urbi’s operation was a large number of lines with overlapping routes, including several assigned to the same traffic corridors in Brasilia, with up to 65% overlap. This arrangement made it essential for Urbi to precisely synchronize terminal departures in order to avoid bunching in traffic corridors.

In addition to these factors, prior to using Optibus, it took Urbi about three months to build a timetable and the associated schedules and rosters. Inputting travel times was especially painstaking, especially for multiple routes and on lines that required synchronization.

In mid-2020, Urbi began using Optibus for planning and scheduling and deployed its first schedule built with Optibus in December 2020.

The Planning module uses a combination of map, satellite, and street level pictures to let planners visualize and plan bus routes quickly and effectively

Results

Operational efficiency

With Optibus, Urbi got better results much faster than before, exceeding Urbi’s expectations of the gains they could make in time savings and schedule optimization.

Urbi used Optibus’ corridor planning tools to make its corridor service far more efficient, reducing the number of trips in the two main traffic corridors it serves in Brasilia while still maintaining good service along those routes.

The flexibility of the Optibus system also made it easy to customize preferences according to Urbi’s needs.

“We had to make those kinds of changes before we started using Optibus, and the results were not as good,” said Sergio Bandeira, Mechanical Engineer, scheduler and planner at Urbi. “With Optibus, we increased our operation’s compliance and punctuality, in addition to reducing passengers’ waiting time at stops.”

With Optibus, Urbi was also able to reduce the time it took to build timetables and schedules, cutting the process down from three months to less than half the time.

“One of the main things Optibus helps with is that the workflow is much, much faster than what we had before, from planning and scheduling to rosters,” said Rafael Shinji Fernandes Arake, Head of Scheduling and Planning team and Project Manager of Systems Implementations.

Optibus' Planning optimization module shows the operational impact of each change in a fast and agile way

Compliance with union rules

Urbi uses Optibus’ extensive, customizable schedule preferences to make sure it adheres to union regulations, and receives validation messages if there is a problem, so that any compliance issues can be resolved early in the planning and scheduling process.

“The flexibility of the preferences is something that’s a big differentiator for us,” said Rafael.

Optibus’ flexible preference configurations helped to ensure that Urbi’s plans complied with regulations, and enabled the creation of multiple scenarios from which Urbi could then choose the most efficient one.

“The possibility of adjusting and creating every kind of preference to optimize a full schedule adds a lot of value,” said Sergio.

Collaboration with government stakeholders

Before getting its new timetable approved for use, Urbi had to receive government approval. Two things made it quite straightforward to get that approval: the high quality of the timetable Urbi generated with Optibus and the ease with which Urbi was able to demonstrate the new trips on the map, simply by showing the relevant routes on the Optibus planning module to the government officials.

“We presented the new routes by opening the map view in Optibus and by showing them the timetable so the authorities could see exactly what we were talking about,” said Sergio. “That made our argument much stronger, and we were able to convince them.”

By enabling Urbi to show its new plans to the authorities, Optibus’ intuitive interface ultimately made it easier to get the go-ahead for those plans, said Rafael.

“Optibus is very user-friendly and very clear, and it’s easy to understand what’s going on,” said Rafael. “With Optibus, it was very easy to demonstrate what we needed, and that helped us get approval.”

Service quality

After Urbi received government approval, it deployed the new schedule it created using Optibus – and found that even though it had reduced its service mileage, it saw an increase in efficiency and service quality.

“In December 2020 and January 2021, our operation achieved an excellent level of service for passengers,” said Rafael.

Future plans

Rafael and Sergio are excited about delving further into using Optibus for roster optimization – and even for applications that have yet to be developed.

“Just the fact that you can optimize the rosters so the rosters are made for you and you just have to analyze them – that’s a big win for us, because that’s something that we do manually, one by one, so if you have 900 rosters that you have to do manually, that takes a long time,” said Rafael.

As for the ability to start using Optibus features that are in the process of development, “we just can’t wait,” said Rafael.

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